추석, Chuseok

추석 (Chuseok) is celebrated on lunar calendar day of August 15th, a full moon day. It is one of the largest holidays in Korea. This is the time when so many travel to see their family and have a large meal together. I compare it to Thanksgiving in the U.S. There is usually a huge amount of food, made by the wives of the family who start cooking the day before the celebration. And no, there were no men who helped out, at least in those days. Since this is after the harvest time, there is an abundance of food. Rich dishes that are not normally eaten during the year are made. The family also pay tribute to the ancestors who had gone before.

The representative food that is made together (again women) is the rice cake (not the puffed rice you get in the supermarket in the U.S.), but made with the rice powder of new rice harvested. The rice cakes were filled with honey and sesame or bean filling and steamed with pine needles to infuse them with the fragrance. Usually half moon shapes are made and filled with fillings, but as usual, my young self used to make the rice cake into all shapes. Go figure…in a collectivist culture where I was supposed to do what I was told, I never quite fit in.

When I was a child, Chuseok was a holiday that I had a love and hate relationship with. I loved it because the school was closed and there was so much good food. I loved making rice cakes and interfering (or helping) in the kitchen. I hated the holiday because that usually meant my father’s brothers invaded our house with their families. Some might think large family gatherings are wonderful, but it was never that during my childhood. I am not sure I want to go into details on this post, perhaps in another snippet. 

Journey Begins

Genealogy is a well-loved hobby of many around me. When I share glimpses of my personal family history, I am often encouraged to write. Yet I have hesitated because my feelings toward my family history is complex and so are my feelings toward many family members. It seems I have a love and hate relationship with my own family history. As an observer, I wish to record them. As a person who has experienced some of it, albeit distantly, I sometimes wish to put it in a box and lock them away. But love and hate I’m told are essentially two sides of the same coin. Does that mean I hate all of my family history or love them? I have no answer to my question or many questions that I have inside. All I know is that time is perhaps always running out if I ever wish to write them down. 

So I start my journey here.

The snippets of story I wish to share are not chronologically ordered. They are just stories, little snippets of my family history shared in little pieces. Some might be able to piece together the chronology of them all, but I will not do so here as the way I heard these stories was just the way I am hoping to tell them, in pieces, out of order, colored by other memories that have clouded them.

2020-07-24